Stomatal penetration by aqueous solutions – an update involving leaf surface particles


Author for correspondence:

Juergen Burkhardt

Tel: +49 228 732186



  • The recent visualization of stomatal nanoparticle uptake ended a 40-yr-old paradigm. Assuming clean, hydrophobic leaf surfaces, the paradigm considered stomatal liquid water transport to be impossible as a result of water surface tension. However, real leaves are not clean, and deposited aerosols may change hydrophobicity and water surface tension.
  • Droplets containing NaCl, NaClO3, (NH4)2SO4, glyphosate, an organosilicone surfactant or various combinations thereof were evaporated on stomatous abaxial and astomatous adaxial surfaces of apple (Malus domestica) leaves. The effects on photosynthesis, necrosis and biomass were determined. Observed using an environmental scanning electron microscope, NaCl and NaClO3 crystals on hydrophobic tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) cuticles underwent several humidity cycles, causing repeated deliquescence and efflorescence of the salts.
  • All physiological parameters were more strongly affected by abaxial than adaxial treatments. Spatial expansion and dendritic crystallization of the salts occurred and cuticular hydrophobicity was decreased more rapidly by NaClO3 than NaCl.
  • The results confirmed the stomatal uptake of aqueous solutions. Humidity fluctuations promote the spatial expansion of salts into the stomata. The ion-specific effects point to the Hofmeister series: chaotropic ions reduce surface tension, probably contributing to the defoliant action of NaClO3, whereas the salt spray tolerance of coastal plants is probably linked to the kosmotropic nature of chloride ions.